Monthly Archives: May, 2012

Rapunzel’s Revenge: a graphic novel

Fairy tales in the wild west. Yes indeed.

(I could say something here about the idea of the wild west being as much of a fairy tale as Rapunzel herself, but I’ll leave that for another day.)

This one is c/-Tansy, and I’m very pleased to have got hold of it. Hale expands on the role of Mother Gothel, and although she’s still a mean nasty magicy person, she’s much expanded: she has a political role in the surrounding lands, there’s a purpose of sorts to her magic, and there seems to be more of a purpose in her taking Rapunzel, too.

Rapunzel herself is way, way more interesting than most of the stories make her, which is unsurprising. She’s learning to lasso from a young age – not with her hair at that stage, that comes later – and she’s much more rounded in terms of motivation, naivety mixed with determination, and so on. She rescues herself from her tower (which is a most awesome tower), she rescues herself and others in a variety of situations, and she has interesting relationships with a bunch of other characters.

The other characters are a really nice part of this story. Rapunzel’s companion for much of it is Jack (who has a goose, and a bean…), who is NOT WHITE – as are a number of the other characters. Jack is quite nuanced, I think, moving from flighty schemer to serious and earnest – in a good way though. The pair run into a variety of law-types and rogues, and while I think all of the authority figures (except Mother Gothel herself) are male, a good proportion of the others, who help or hinder on the way, are female – just because they could be and it really doesn’t matter.

The pictures are fun. Lassoing with hair looks… painful, actually. Also, I loved Rapunzel’s costumes. She basically starts off in a dress that she wears for four years; then she’s in what looks like a nightie, with a belt and awesome green tights – she looks like Pippi Longstocking; she gets into pants eventually, but even when she’s in a ball gown (in which she is uncomfortable), she manages to fight effectively. Which is fun.

My wall

We went to the UK in 2009 to ride our bikes. On the wall, as of today, is a selection of our very favouritest pictures from that trip.

(The small pics closest to the side are from our first trip; the gilt-framed picture is a print of a Blaeu map.)

Comics: Wonder Woman and Birds of Prey

So yes, I’m getting me some graphic novel lovin’.

I don’t have much background in Wonder Woman and her universe; I knew that her people are Amazons, and that was about it. I don’t know whether the origin story posited here was partly or totally a reboot, etc etc. It kinda doesn’t matter, actually, at least not for my enjoyment of the story. There were obviously bits that didn’t have the emotional impact that it might for long-term fans; I could see it was devastating when friends got hurt, or turned on Diana, but I didn’t feel it as much as I might have. And I certainly didn’t have the GASP reaction that I bet others did when the Big Nasties were revealed. t did feel it, though, when the truth about Genocide was revealed; and I certainly got cranky at Zeus and his great big awesome plans for replacing the Amazons.

So yeh, thoroughly enjoyed this. The story is dramatic and action-filled and angsty in good ways. It’s not heavy on character development, but that’s partly what the pictures are for I guess. And I liked the pictures. Yes Wonder Woman has no pants, but she’s rarely posed in such a way that that’s an emphasis, or a sexy sexy thing. And there is an emphasis on the violence of what she’s confronted with, and the fact that she gets a beating is not shied away from.

Going to get me more Gail Simone WW, I think.

Speaking of Gail Simone…

This is clearly part of an ongoing story about the team called Birds of Prey, but it also works as a stand-alone story about them and their missions. I’ve not read any stories before that feature teams of superheroes going up against super villains, and have really only seen this on the screen in X-Men. I really enjoyed the way that the pictures allowed the fights to be shown both in close-up and panoramically, encompassing the entire fight – something that movies manage and that books just can’t get across in words with much impact.

I liked the characters a lot, even though I struggled to keep track of a few of them (they kinda melded together). However, Oracle really was my absolute favourite: a former Batgirl, now in a wheelchair (… well, in a wheelchair here; I know that NOW they’ve rebooted it and she’s able-bodied again) and with awesome techno-fu. And defending her team from a usurper. She’s brilliant.

Again, I really enjoyed the art – some ridiculous costumes but some not, and usually dealt with as if they’re practical, if that makes sense. I enjoyed the story, and I enjoyed the interactions between the characters too.

Lady rock

This is my new, somewhat ironic name for rock at the harder end of the spectrum that has at least a female vocalist. It’s not perfect, it’s hardly classy, but you know; some days it’s what you come up with, and it sticks. Anyway, a few weeks ago I wrote about how I seemed to have very few lady rockers on my playlists, and that I was looking for recommendations. I got quite a few, which was awesome! … and I haven’t managed to audition all of them yet, because I’m both occasionally slack and frequently time poor. (Why am I writing this, then? because this is how I prioritise my time.) Anyway, I thought I would report back my finds so far.

My post was inspired at least in part by listening to the Superjesus, only one of whose songs I owned at the time, and that from an old JJJ compilation. So I bought Sumo II, and I am totally loving it. Their lead singer rocks madly! I’ve also bought the iTunes essentials album of Garbage, which includes some songs I’d not heard before, and rediscovering the glory that is “Cherry Lips” is worth quite a lot. Of other stuff that I already knew but didn’t own, I’ve also bought the Divinyls’ “Science Fiction,” because I heard it on the radio and remembered how much I liked it.

Then there’s the new stuff. Let me go alphabetically, which means starting with The Breeders, who were care of Tansy. I previewed a fair bit of their stuff and in the end bought four songs off the album Last Splash. While I like the idea of albums the reality is I don’t listen to them consecutively most of the time, so there seemed little point in buying the whole lot when most of them didn’t immediately grab me. “Cannonball,” though?

And “Saints”? BRILLIANT.

Next, Butterfly Boucher. I did not find her via anybody I know. Instead, I heard “5678!” as part of the playlist on a Qantas flight recently…

… previewed the rest of the (eponymous) album on iTunes, and bought the whole thing. And I love it. It doesn’t really scratch my rock itch (er… push my rock buttons? Float my rock boat?), with maybe the exception of the fine “I Wanted to be the Sun,” but… I just love it.

Courtesy of Helen I listened to George’s “Release” and absolutely went mad for it. This is the sort of song I’d listen to on repeat for my walk to work. I bought the rest of Polyserena, the album it’s on, and to be honest the rest of it’s not working for me quite as much. But I’m still willing to give it a go.

And… actually that’s all I’ve bought. I’ve trialled a few of the others that were suggested and they weren’t really my thing. And there are still some, as I said, that I haven’t got to. It’s an evolving thing.

Galactic Suburbia turns 60 and has cake

In which we celebrate our 60th episode and Peter MacNamara Award for Excellence win with cake, yarn and superheroes. For best results, consume this podcast with fabulous cake and/or sock yarn. You can get us from iTunes or Galactic Suburbia.


Nebula Awards

Aurealis Awards:

Sturgeon shortlist

2012 Mythopoeic Awards

Women, Men and Social Media

50% female speakers at a tech conference and how it was done

The Hugo Packet is released

Kirstyn examines her 23 year old self
through the lens of her current feminist self.

Marvel Comics follows Archie’s lead with a gay marriage between Northstar and Kyle: the news was launched by Whoopi Goldberg on The View.

Chicks Unravel Time announced from Mad Norwegian Press and Tansy is in it

What Culture Have we Consumed?

Alex: The Monster, Garth Nix and Sean Williams (Troubletwisters #2); Agatha H and the Clockwork Princess, Phil and Kaia Foglio; Birds of Prey: Dead of Winter; Wonder Woman: Rise of the Olympian
Tansy: Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire, Made in Dagenham
Alisa: Black Heart by Holly Black; The Avengers movie

Please send feedback to us (especially about any cake you may have eaten or yarn you may have knitted with this podcast) at, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!

Reading comics

I don’t. I never have, really. Someone gave me a graphic novel of the first Batman movie many, many moons ago and I loved it, but I never sought out anything else like it. At that stage I regarded comics as all Biff! and Pow! and having none of the sophistication I saw in that novel. No idea whether I was right then; I do know I wouldn’t be right in thinking it today.

I read one serialised graphic novel/comic strip: Girl Genius. For those late to the party, I discovered Girl Genius with issue 9 in the Hugo Packet in 2010. I read most of issue 9… then went back to the very start, online, and read the entire saga. (One issue = one year of pages appearing Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.) I now own all of them in hard copy, and the novels as they appear… which is rather indicative of the idea that I do like comics. I have also enjoyed Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant, which Tehani pointed me towards. I’d read more of that series, but the one hard copy available is going to cost me more in postage than the book itself, so… yeh. Not so much. (And I read Questionable Content, too, now that I think about it… hmmm, this is rather indicative, isn’t it?)

My last request post, for women who rock, was quite the success – and I’ll be posting an update on that soon, once I’ve auditioned a few more bands/singers. So I’ll do it again. I know Tansy is probably already in the comments section telling me which DC comics to hurry up and catch up on, but I’d love a wide variety of suggestions! I’m happy to read online, obviously; in fact I’d probably prefer it, or at least electronic copies, until I decide whether I love something or not. I’d prefer a lack of graphic/gratuitous violence and sex, and if you’re going to preface your suggestion with “You may get annoyed with the portrayal of women but…” then please rethink your comment  🙂

Robespierre: the democrat, the radical

It’s a running joke in my Revolutions class that I have a little history-crush on Peter McPhee – one that I do all I can to play up, in all honesty. Robespierre has not, however, been my particular revolutionary crush; that’s Danton. After reading this biography, I’m half tempted to switch my allegiances… but the larger than life Danton is still more alluring than the somewhat severe Robespierre.

Anyway, this biography is exactly what I was hoping for. It’s clearly written and easy to read; I don’t know accessible it would be for someone with zero knowledge of the revolution, but I’m no expert and I had no trouble following it. It follows Robespierre’s life chronologically – indeed giving a bit of background on his family too – and provides what felt like an appropriate amount of background and contextual information on the realities of life throughout France, reasons for revolution, and attitudes among different groups for the duration of said revolution.

I’ve not read any of the other numerous biographies of “the Incorruptible,” and McPhee gives an interesting overview of them in his final chapter. I know that some have tended towards utter condemnation, but I didn’t realise that others turned into panegyrics. This one certainly comes down largely in favour of Robespierre as a man and a politician, demonstrating quite conclusively how consistent his ideals and desires were, even predating the revolution of 1789 that made at least some of those ideas acceptable. McPhee doesn’t shy away from the fact that lots of people died in the Terror, but does point out that in no way can the majority be laid at Robespierre’s feet – he was horrified by the actions of some deputies in rural France. He also doesn’t shy away from the likelihood that Robespierre was in fact going too far, by mid-1794, and may even have been tending towards paranoia.

If you’re at all interested in this period, or in how a leader can influence events, this is a really brilliant bio.

Galactic Suburbia #59

In which the boob window is explained. Don’t say we’re not educational! You can get us from iTunes or Galactic Suburbia.


Drink Tank loves us! Download their Hugo shortlist commentary here.

Mondy loves us too! He makes us go awww.

James Tiptree Jr finally in the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, and about time too.

Talking to Alistair Reynolds: he defends the idea that science fiction has a limited number of plots

Locus Award Finalists

Clarke Award

Women in (Japanese) Comics: Cheryl Morgan reports; Anime News Network

Some kickstarter stuff:
Feminist Historical Anthology from Ann & Jeff VanderMeer

Scalzi on Amanda Palmer and how she worked hard for 10 years to get her “overnight success”

What Culture Have we Consumed?

Alisa: We Wuz Pushed by Brit Mandelo
Alex: Castles Made of Sand, Gwyneth Jones; Captain America; The Avengers; Confusion of Princes, Garth Nix
Tansy: A Confusion of Princes, Garth Nix; The Avengers; Earth 2 & World’s Finest; Ishtar

Tansy’s Note: “I do not mourn the boob window” is a classic line that should be long remembered and oft repeated – but Cheryl Morgan said it first! I only steal from the best…

Please send feedback to us at, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!